The Estes Valley Astronomical Society (EVAS) in conjunction with The Estes Park Memorial Observatory is offering a free public open house/star night on Saturday, July 28th, 7 PM. The goal of EVAS is to promote amateur astronomy and education in the Estes valley.
Our returning speaker for the evening is one of our EVAS club members, Dr. Gordon MacAlpine and the title of his talk will be:
“THE BIG BANG IN A LITTLE NUTSHELL”
Why do astronomers think we live in a Big Bang type of universe? It’s a silly name, and it involves preposterous ideas. However, supported by numerous observational and theoretical advances, the theory has continually become more credible. Its strengths include an explanation for how matter originally came into existence, an understanding of the time and space characteristics for both matter and radiation, a realistic determination for the age of the Universe, and a recipe for how the elements were created in their observed or measured amounts. The theory may also help with answering questions regarding why our Universe is surprisingly conducive for the development of life.
In this talk, illustrated with diagrams and providing scientific background as appropriate, we will discuss the origin of the silly Big Bang name and how seemingly preposterous ideas (like the entire Universe consisting of “nothing”) can actually make sense. Then we will follow a path in time from the postulated beginning, through some crucial early stages of what astronomers call a “working model” for the Big Bang, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. The latter include lack of a firm theoretical understanding for how the Universe was born. In addition, it is reasonable to ask why the matter in stars, planets, and people didn’t simply disappear long ago. We still have a lot to learn.
This public talk, supplemented with visual aids, is intended for a general audience.
Our speaker is Dr. Gordon MacAlpine a retired astronomer, physicist and a member of the EVAS club. He received a BA in physics from Earlham College and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin. After a stint at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan where he was a Professor of Astronomy until 2000. Then he accepted the Zilker Distinguished Professor of Physics chair at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where he continued teaching astronomy, physics, and environmental science until his retirement in 2012. Gordon and his wife, Barbara, recently moved to Estes Park
The observatory is just north of the high school at 1600 Manford Ave. Park in the teacher’s parking lot adjacent to the observatory. The doors will open at 7:00pm and the meeting will start at 7:30pm. The presentation, including a question and answer period, lasts about an hour. After the presentation, weather permitting, we will look through the new 16 inch dome telescope at various celestial objects.